Posts Tagged ‘race’

A Nation of Cowards

July 20, 2013

The Wall Street Journal article, “Obama: Trayvon Martin ‘Could Have Been Me’ ” discussing the President’s off the cuff remarks about the Martin/Zimmerman case was most discouraging. His attitude, reflecting that of a majority of blacks is that only the black experience matters.

“But he tried to explain the lens through which black Americans may see the case, saying that their own experiences and the country’s history with race inform how many view what happened to Mr. Martin.”

As a non-black my experience is also the lens though which I view life in general and this case as well. I have been called racist and sexist by a black woman (a third grade teacher no less) who did not like the job I was doing. Most blacks, male and female, appreciated the work I did. And even though a few had occasional complaints most did not raise the race or gender issue. I was never called racist or sexist by any non-black customers, employees or vendors.

In my small business I hired a number of temporary laborers, predominately black but not universally. Most were decent individuals who through luck, bad circumstance or poor life choice found themselves in difficult straits. I became friendly with some of these individuals and sought them out with work. However, there was one young black man who I did not like. He was only 21, had already fathered two children by two woman (both out of wedlock), did not support either child or woman, bragged about spending his money at strip clubs and railed about being disrespected by the agency manager. After all, this young man angrily stated, he was a man because he fathered two kids and therefore deserved respect. By “respect” of course, he meant his arrogant attitude should have been accepted, even embraced but never chastised.

At another time in my life I had long hair, a long beard, wore ragged clothes and was not regularly employed. Car doors would lock as I walked by as well. Being white didn’t matter. I looked suspicious. Years later when I owned a seat on the CME futures exchange I was advised not to apply for a job with a particular firm because I was not of the proper religious persuasion. Being white didn’t matter. Even today if a white as snow biker flying his colors walked by I too would lock my doors. The oft heard complaint about “locks click on the doors of cars” applies not just to blacks but to any suspicious looking individual. But only suspicious looking individuals. And yeah, aimlessly walking around in the rain wearing clothing that hides appearance in a neighborhood suffering a series of burglaries is darned suspicious. I too would be suspicious regardless of age, gender, or race. In point of fact as a post-military college student I did just that.

I noted a white male slowly walking down my street, stopping every few feet and looking around to see if anyone was observing. Being slightly hidden in my driveway my presence wasn’t evident. I observed this young, white male wearing jeans and shirt for several minutes because he was suspicious. The next day police knocked on my door and asked if I had seen anything suspicious because a burglary had been committed. I acknowledged what I had seen and gave them a description enhanced by my studied observation. It was never the persons age, gender, race or clothing but all of that in the context of his actions that raised my suspicion.

My experience is that too often some blacks (and women) assume that any slight, real or perceived, is due strictly to race (or gender). If I see a group of young black men walking towards me I might smile and say hello. They might be in military uniform or have the posture, poise and appearance of military men. If a different group of young black men came walking toward me I might be concerned and walk away to avoid them. This group would be wearing red or blue bandannas on their head, baggy pants dragging below their butt, over large shirts and they would be doing the “urban strut” down the street. It isn’t race that’s the problem. Either group could be white, black, brown, red or yellow or a mixture. It is clothing, gender, age, and race all within the context of actions.

For the President to chime in on race by offering support for only the black experience is for him to define his presidency that way as well. The President only intervenes in the public discourse when a non-black man kills a black man even though it was adjudicated as self defense. Meanwhile the President consistently ignores the massive amount of black on black violence and death. This is nothing short of disheartening. Maybe Attorney General Eric Holder was right when he said that in race discussions Americans are “nation of cowards”. Starting at the top evidently.

When Ears Don’t Hear, Truth is Futile

March 21, 2011

Comment in response to this article by Leonard Pitts, writer for the Miami Herald           03/19/2011

Mr. Pitts,

You claim to be presenting “objective fact” and rue the idea that no one gets it. That your article will be futile, I agree. But it will be futile because you have not and will not present “objective fact”.

“For instance, in her book, The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander reports that white kids are a third more likely to have sold drugs than black kids. But in some states, blacks account for up to 90 percent of all drug offenders in prison.” Thus your column infers drug arrests must be racially motivated.

Michelle Alexander claims, “white kids are a third more likely” to deal drugs. This is clever word usage designed more to hide information than provide it. Let’s assume any randomly selected drug dealer has a 33% probability of being black. But if that drug dealer is 1/3 more likely to be white then a randomly selected drug dealer has a 44% probability of being white. We can assume a 23% probability of the drug dealer being Hispanic or Asian or of mixed race.

Out of every 100 drug dealers then about 33 are black and 44 are white. Thus “white kids are a third more likely to have sold drugs”. But black’s only constitute about 13% of our population while whites are about 80%. If we look at any random sample of 100,000 Americans and of those we assume 100 are drug dealers then of those drug dealers 33 are likely to be black and 44 likely to be white. But in that same 100,000 population sample only 13,000 are black and 80,000 are white. The rest being of other races. (See U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts)

That suggests a 0.254% probability of a black being a drug dealer and a 0.055% probability of a white being a drug dealer [33/13,000=0.254% and 44/80,000=0.055%]. This means blacks are 4.6 times more likely to be a drug dealer than whites [0.0254/0.055=4.62]. Is that racist Mr. Pitts? If random members of the black race are nearly 5 times more likely to be drug dealers than random members of the white race then isn’t it “objective fact” that they are far more likely to end up in jail?

Other questions regard the nature of the drug offense. Is the drug dealer who only sells marijuana more likely to be white or black? Is the drug dealer who sells powder cocaine more likely to be white or black? Is the drug dealer who sells crack cocaine more likely to be white or black? Is the drug dealer who sells methamphetamine more likely to be white or black? Is the drug dealer who sells heroin more likely to be white or black? Mr. Pitts you claim “objective fact” but all I read is subjective bias. You and Michelle Alexander conflate various types of drug offenses together as if selling heroin on a street corner is no more offensive than selling a nickel bag of marijuana to a college buddy. You obscure “facts” with sophistry.

And that sir, is why your column is so futile. You continuously harp on the racial makeup of statistical outcomes  and rarely harp on the choices being made by individuals. In so doing you drive a wedge between those of us who expect individuals to make responsible choices and to enjoy (or not) the obligations thereof and those who seek to have the state provide an outcome. It is not racist to ask why so many black children are born out of wedlock yet few black leaders complain publicly. It is not racist to ask why so many black children grow up without a father yet few black leaders complain publicly. It is not racist to ask why so many black males have criminal records while black leaders only complain about the racist police instead of stupid choices made by individuals. Instead of challenging the choices members of your racial community make you charge the white population with racism and then demand that the state force an alternative outcome regardless of choices individuals make. If expecting individuals to make responsible choices about their lives means that I am racist then so be it.

And for the record, it is objective fact that most murders are committed within racial categories. That is most blacks are killed by other blacks and most whites are killed by other whites. Indeed, in all cases most often by someone they know.